Top Ten Tuesdays - Top 10 Short Stories.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovelies at The Broke and the Bookish. 

This week’s Top Ten theme is: Top Ten X Genre Books, and we were meant to pick our own themes. Now, y'all by now know that I grow a bit weak at the knees pretty much every time Stephen King even looks at a pen and paper. 

At first, I got to thinking about how I might make this top 10 a countdown of my favourite SK books. But then I remembered that I am indecisive and would never be able to choose which of his books is my favourite. I'd want to say The Stand, but then I'd remember It and then The Talisman would spring to mind... argh! 

And then it occurred to me that I'd have to put at least one of his books of short stories on the list. Because SK might well be the master of the horror novel (and I'd argue that his books are literature that's scary, not "horrorbooks" to be sneered at by people who think modern literature can only be found on the Oprah or Richard and Judy books lists... *tries to get on a high horse but falls off due to poor coordination*)

And then (I'm meandering towards the point, promise) I got to thinking about short stories in general. What would my top ten be? Short stories aren't nearly as common as they used to be, though it's been nice to see a few more books of them popping up recently, particularly in the YA markets. It seemed like a nice idea to come up with a top ten list of my favourite short stories. The ones in the public domain I've linked to. Enjoy, and DEFINITELY share your own favourites in the comments. I'm always looking for a great new short story.

My Top Ten Short Stories

From: Sliding, Short Stories by Leslie Norris.

Shaving is a touching story about the relationship between father and son. It's about how roles reverse as parents get old while their children get strong. It's a beautiful piece. The link will take you to a teaching resource I used to use. 

This is a story I used for teaching. Leslie Norris was a prize winning Welsh poet and short story writer, and here in Wales we have to make sure we celebrate our Welshiness in class. It's part of the curriculum so Cymru am byth!

Autopsy Room Four
From: Everything's Eventual by Stephen King

Bloody hell. This is one of those stories that really captures one of the most primitive fears of humanity: being buried alive. Well, not buried, but as the title suggests, being taken for autopsy. 

Howard Cotrell, the protagonist, wakes up to find himself in Autopsy Room Four, but he's completely paralysed and therefore unable to tell the doctors there that he's not dead. 

I read this with wide, horrified eyes and a sort of exhilirated morbid fascination. It's both dreadful and terribly funny. 

From: The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

If Stephen King is the Master of horror, then Jackson is the Mistress, or maybe I should say she's the Mother... after all her works acted as a nurturing influence to King, and others such as Neil Gaiman and Richard Matheson. 

She wrote a whole bunch of awesomeness but The Lottery was the first thing I ever read of hers back when I was about nine or ten. I never forgot it. There was something about it which resonated with me. Maybe because it reminded me of my home town: normal on the surface but sometimes dark and icky underneath. Hell, I guess that's most towns. That's why it's such a powerful story. 

It's a shame we don't hear more about Shirley Jackson in UK schools. Her short stories are the perfect fodder for inspiring pupils to read. Nobody can resist the chills she offers. 

Chattery Teeth 
From: Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King 

If any of you are Brits, then you might remember the days when BBC2 used to show horror movies back to back at midnight. I used to LOVE these horror marathons. They introduced me to so many brilliant (and, in some cases, brilliantly cheesy) movies. One of the cheesiest and most fun was Quicksilver Highway and I came upon it completely by accident. 

One of the horror marathons had Stephen King's Pet Sematary as the second feature. I'd never seen it before but the first feature (I forget what it was) had been a long one. I was ready for bed. These were the days of VCRs and long-play tapes. 

When I came to watch Pet Sematary, I was pleased. It was creepy, the kid gave me chills, I got to chuckle at Fred Gwynne (you might know him as Herman Munster) say "Don't take that road" (pronounced, "Dahn't tehk thaht rahd"), or something along those lines, and best of all, Lt Sasha Yar (Denise Crosby to non-geeks) dies. Brilliant! 

Far more brilliant was the beauty of the long-play tape. Not only had it recorded the movie I'd wanted, but also that which had followed: Quicksilver Highway. This wonderful piece of stilton is a comprised of two one-hour adaptations. The first of which was Chattery Teeth, by Stephen King. The adaptation is pure cheese, but the audio reading by Kathy Bates is pure awesomesocks (I've invented this word. Take it, share it like it was Captain Trips). Stephen King + Kathy Bates = stuff I'm gonna like. 

It occurs to me that I should perhaps reconsider this story as one of my favourites, as it is entirely responsible for me making a total arse of myself when I got to meet Stephen King a few years ago. If you fancy a cringe, read about that here.

The Body Politic
From: Books of Blood by Clive Barker

The second half of Quicksilver Highway was an adaptation of Clive Barker's The Body Politic, a story in which a man's hands rebel against his own body. Clive barker is another who can relied upon to creep your socks off. 

The Yattering and Jack
by Clive Barker a bonus entry I'm going to add another Clive Barker to the list here, though It might be cheating a little as it's a graphic novel called The Yattering and Jack. I found this book in the attic or my parents' house years ago. It was the first GN I ever read and I should not have read it alone in the attic. Attics are creepy at the best of times...

by Wilkie Collins

Back when I was a wee 15 year old, just starting out on the road to GCSEs, I had to study and write short stories as a part of my coursework. The first short story we were given as a class was this one. I don't remember the other, though everyone else in the class preferred it because it was a more recent piece. Maybe I did too, at the time, but it's Collins' piece that stuck with me. The situation and the pace are just brilliant. Click the title and go and have a read!

The End of the Whole Mess
From: Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King

I know, I know... but I'm a fan, okay?! And King really knows how to pack a punch with his short stories. I've not written this list in any kind of order, but if I had, this would've been at least in the top three I think. You can get this on audio, read by Matthew Broderick. He does a great job, but this really is a story that you have to see written to experience the full impact. 

The story is a first person epistolary piece from the perspective of Howard Forney. The journal details the promise and the resultant disaster of Howard's brother, Bobby. Bobby is a genius who has found a cure for hostility... but the chemical compound leads to more than just peace. 

by Edgar Allan Poe

Come on. A list of great short stories wouldn't be complete without this fella, would it?! I first encountered this story as another of those BBC2 movie doubles back in the day. It wasn't a great adaptation, but it did have Vincent Price, who was awesome. 

After seeing the film, I read the short story and loved it. While I think there are many better Poe short stories, and even better poems, The Masque of the Red Death was my first time with Poe, so it has a special place in my heart!

From: Everything's Eventual by Stephen King

A nice little segue from Poe, a character played by John Cusack in The Raven, to 1408, the adaptation of which Cusack starred in. Nice. 

I first encountered this short story not in it's finished form, but as a work-in-progress in Stephen King's On Writing. In this amazing book, half how-to guide, half memoir, King demonstrates how he uses the formula:

Finished Draft = First Draft - 10%

When I came across 1408 in Everything's Eventual, it was nice to see it again, after witnessing it's initial circumcision of adverbs. 

It's not a whole bunch like the movie as King leaves a lot of the horror unseen, allowing your imagination to go into overdrive and imagine the very worst. I enjoyed the movie, though. Probably because I'm a little bit in love with John Cusack and have been ever since I saw him in The Sure Thing

So there you have it. Ten short stories and my reasons why. I know there are a lot of King stories on there, but not undeservedly so. If you have a chance, click on the titles of the ones which aren't King, as most of them are public domain so you'll be linked to where you can read the stories. I guarantee you a great read. 

Love and peaceful reading.

L x


  1. I absolutely love short stories and always have a collection by my bedside - so love this list - and love Stephen King too!

  2. Short stories is a wonderful idea! I wonder what I'd put on my list.

    Here's my
    Top Ten Books That Take Place in Paris.
    I'd love to have you stop by!

  3. The Lottery!!! I think that it should be read and discussed alongside The Hinger Games! Nobody knows what I'm talking about when I mention it!

    Check out YA Litwit’s Top Ten Fairy Tale Retellings and my GIVEAWAY!

  4. Hmmm...interesting topic! Thanks for sharing.


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